In a recent blog I talked about how the hazy, hot and humid days of summer pose a particular hazard to our pets.
To underscore that fact, I want to talk about the dangerous behavior I observed in just the last week since filing that story. On one of the hottest days here in Albany, Troy, East Greenbush and Clifton Park — as well as most of the surrounding upstate New York state counties — July 20, 2019 saw the mercury rise to 98 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by a tropical dew point, which made the air temperature feel close to 110 degrees.
Despite this oppressive heat, people were out walking their dogs on paved sidewalks in the early afternoon — during the hottest time of the day. A pooch’s paws are blistered and severely burned on hot pavement! Simply breathing in that kind of heat and humidity, let alone exercising in it, is dangerous to humans and canines alike.
Here are a few preventative tips to avoid heat stroke:
· Always check with your veterinarian to see if your dog is healthy enough – or a breed that is safe – to exercise with you.
· Avoid exercising between 10 am and 3 pm. During these hours the heat index is at its highest.
· Exercise in shade whenever possible and avoid hot pavement.
· HYDRATE! Be sure to carry a water bottle or Camelback for your dog. If your water supply gets low, save that water for your four-legged friend!
· Avoid fast-paced exercise when temperatures soar, such as rollerblading.
· Overweight pets are predisposed to overheating.
However, it’s important to remain vigilant for signs of fatigue or heat stroke in your dog no matter what the temperature is. The sooner you notice these signs, the sooner you should stop any form of exercise, cool down your dog, and seek veterinary attention!
Signs of heat stroke include:
· Constant panting
· Dragging behind (e.g., in other words, on a leash lagging several feet behind you)
· Dry gums that feel sticky to the touch
· Dark red gums
· Acting wobbly or walking drunk
· An elevated heart rate
· Feeling warm to the touch, with red, flushed skin
· Dark, concentrated urine
Stop any activity immediately if you observe any of the above and quickly take the following steps:
· Transport you pet to a veterinarian right away
· Move your dog IMMEDIATELY to a shaded area or to a water source and begin cooling him down; even if this means dousing your pooch with water bottles from random strangers)!